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Libyan Muslim Brotherhood opens door to conciliation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Libyan PM Ali Zeidan arrives at Tunis-Carthage airport on June 12, 2013, for an official visit. (AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID)

Libyan PM Ali Zeidan arrives at Tunis-Carthage airport on June 12, 2013, for an official visit. (AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID)

Libyan PM Ali Zeidan arrives at Tunis-Carthage airport on June 12, 2013, for an official visit. (AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat–The higher council of the Libyan Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has authorized party leader Mohamed Suwwan to decide whether to withdraw from the government or not, as long as he decides within a week.

Party sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting, held by the council in Tripoli on Monday, resulted in a number of decisions including the authorization of a “crisis cell” to decide the party’s position on membership of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s government within a week, adding that it considered three possibilities: withdrawal, allowing some ministers to stay in the government, or staying in the government if certain conditions are met.

The sources revealed that these conditions included a demand that Zeidan implement plans to strengthening Libya’s military and police forces.

Since the overthrow of Gadhafi in 2011, the Libyan government has struggled to rebuild its security forces, and has been forced to rely on various militia groups which have attempted to coerce the government on various issues, and have become a source of public discontent.

Meanwhile, there were indications on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya were preparing for dramatic internal changes. Sources quoted Mutafa El Manea, chairman of the higher council, that the meeting decided to start preparations for the preliminary elections for parliament, adding that “the next elections will surprise the Libyan people because they will produce new faces to lead the party that are different to what they are accustomed to, and that these elections will also produce a new vision and a new strategy for the party.”

Meanwhile, the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood’s general guide, Bashir Al-Kibti, said on Monday that there was a near-unanimous national consensus in Libya that Prime Minister Ali Zeidan should step down, adding that the current dialogue and argument revolved around searching for an alternative to replace him.

A German news agency quoted Kibti as saying that the demand for the resignation of Zeidan’s government “came after a long time ago for a number of reasons, most important of which was the failure to manage the security portfolio.” He added that there was no link between the Brotherhood’s growing demands for his resignation and Zeidan’s recent visit to Cairo, and his meetings with the new Egyptian administration.

He added: “We follow the national congress, and Zeidan was questioned by the parliament and asked to resign in a private meeting, but he refused and said: Get 120 votes against me and I will go.”

Kibti said: “We are talking about public opinion which views the government as a failure and that it must go,” adding that “We want an independent nationalist personality, who can carry out the duties [of prime minister] regardless of affiliation.”

In response to Zeidan’s comments that the Brotherhood had objected to him since he took office in November 2012, Kibti said: “This is not true. Zeidan is confused between the Brotherhood and the Justice and Construction Party. It is true that Zeidan was not the favorite candidate for the Justice and Construction Party, but we as the Brotherhood had no say in that, and when he was appointed, we wished him success. We did not demand his resignation until after the attack in Benghazi four months ago, which killed 50 people. We asked for an investigation into the incident and nothing has been done about it so far.”

Kibti denied that the fall of the Brotherhood in Egypt had caused them confusion, adding that “some people may think that the same experience may be repeated in Tunisia and Libya, although we in Libya do not rule anyway. Our principles are not the same as our brothers’ in Egypt. Our principles are for partnership, not exclusion, and we are a harmonious society, all Muslims, and no one will be bigger than Islam.”

He laughed off suggestions of an agreement between Brotherhood-backed parties in Egypt and Libya that the latter would become a financier for all Brotherhood projects in Egypt, and that this agreement was reached during a visit by Egyptian Brotherhood deputy leader, Khairat El-Shater, to Tripoli a few months ago.